European court condemns Turkey over detention of Kurdish mayor

European Court of Human Rights orders Turkey to pay the Kurdish mayor thousands of euros in damages and for expenses

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — The European Court of Human Rights denounced Turkey for detaining a Kurdish mayor for over two years without trial.

The Strasbourg-based tribunal said the removal from office of Tuncer Bakirhan just after his election as mayor of Siirt in March 2014 was “manifestly disproportionate” and a violation of his liberty and free speech.

Bakirhan, a member of the Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), was accused of belonging to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

He was jailed for two years and eight months before appearing court, and in October 2019 was handed a 10-year prison term.

The BDP member brought the application against Turkey over his pre-trial detention before the European court.

“Detaining the applicant, an elected representative of the people, for such a period on account of his political activities constituted an interference that was manifestly disproportionate to the legitimate aims pursued,” the ECHR said on Tuesday.

His imprisonment “had not been necessary in a democratic society,” it added.

The ECHR also ordered Turkey to pay Bakirhan 10,000 euros ($11,800) in damages plus 3,000 euros for expenses.

The European Court of Human Rights, set up in 1959, deals with alleged violations of the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights, which Ankara ratified in 1954.

The court handed down 97 judgments concerning Turkey last year, of which 85 determined there had been at least one violation of the rights convention, according to AFP.

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